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MOCK DRAFT WATCH: How free agency affects selections

Mock drafts across the country have the Lions going in a lot of different directions with both of their first-round picks (No. 2 & 32). With Jacksonville spending a lot of resources in free agency to bolster their offensive line, will they now go pass rusher at No. 1? And if so, could they take Michigan's Aidan Hutchinson, who most early mock drafts had slotted to Detroit at No. 2?

Here's a look at who the experts have the Lions selecting in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft:

Daniel Jeremiah,

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia (No. 2)

Why: Walker has the athleticism and scheme versatility to fit in with any of the teams at the top of the draft.

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (No. 32)

Why: In this slot, Dean would be the best value pick of the first round.

Lance Zierlein,

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 6; trade w/ Carolina)

Why: Hutchinson is well-liked around the league, but maybe not loved. He lacks explosive get-off and has below-average length, which may push him down a little bit.

Jameson Williams, WR, Alabama (No. 32)

Why: Williams might not help the Lions much this year as he recovers from an ACL tear, but the long-term potential for the explosive deep-ball threat is what matters most.

Go behind the scenes with the Detroit Lions during 2022 free agency.

Bucky Brooks,

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Detroit coach Dan Campbell could fall in love with the ultra-athletic, high-motor pass rusher with Michigan roots. Hutchinson's relentlessness and superb technique could make him a double-digit sack artist early in his career.

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia (No. 32)

Why: As an explosive defender with the versatility to play inside or outside, Walker gives defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn more options to utilize on the front line.

Todd McShay, ESPN:

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 2)

Why: No, the 4.59-second 40-yard dash doesn't bother me. Hamilton plays fast on tape, and you don't come across 6-foot-4, 220-pound safeties with his range, explosion (38-inch vertical jump) and ball skills (three interceptions and four passes defensed in seven 2021 games) very often.

Boye Mafe, Edge, Minnesota (No. 32)

Why: He ran a 4.53 in the 40 and sprung 10-foot-5 in the broad jump at 261 pounds. Mafe's game is raw and needs development, but he has one of the fastest takeoffs I've seen on tape in this class.

Mel Kiper Jr., ESPN:

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 2)

Why: Hamilton is a playmaking safety in a 6-foot-4 frame who would immediately raise the ceiling of a defense that has struggled for years. He can play in the box, out of the slot and as a center fielder. Normally I'd say this is too high for a safety, but Hamilton is a unique and special defender.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (No. 32)

Why: He throws a ball with some zip and is extremely tough, though he doesn't have a huge frame (6-foot-2, 212 pounds). The biggest question revolves around the offense he ran in college; his coaches didn't ask him to make many reads. There will be an adjustment in the NFL.

Dane Brugler, The Athletic:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: Hutchinson didn't do anything at the combine to hurt his draft standing as one of the best players in the class. While his 40-yard dash time was average, he led all front-seven defenders with a 6.73 three-cone and 4.15 short shuttle, which are both extraordinary numbers.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (No. 32)

Why: A quarterback at No. 2 overall would be a surprise, but not as much if the Lions take a passer here. The Lions have been doing their homework on several quarterbacks in this class, including a formal meeting with Ridder at the combine.

Pete Prisco, CBS Sports:

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia (No. 2)

Why: The Lions are in a tough spot without a real need for an offensive tackle. They could trade down, but if they stay here I have them taking an edge rusher in Walker, who NFL people love.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (No. 32)

Why: He is a big, strong receiver who will give their passing game a boost. His 40 times have been disappointing, but he is still capable of being a productive receiver for a team in need.

Ryan Wilson, CBS Sports:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: Thibodeaux has game-changing talents and should be among the first players drafted. Charles Harris was a pleasant surprise in Detroit last season but there's always room for a game-changing edge rusher like Thibodeaux.

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (No. 32)

Why: The more we watch Howell the more we like. He carried the Tar Heels in '21, after losing his two best WRs and two best RBs to the NFL. It wasn't pretty at times, but he has the arm strength and the athleticism we see on Sundays from the league's best young passers, and in Detroit he can sit for a year behind Jared Goff.

Chris Trapasso, CBS Sports:

Malik Willis, QB, Liberty (No. 2)

Why: The Lions surprise the masses by picking a quarterback at No. 2. Willis can sit behind Jared Goff for a season then take over in 2023.

Daxton Hill, S, Michigan (No. 32)

Why: The Lions get a playmaking cornerback/safety for their secondary. Big need, and Hill is one of the most athletic players in the entire draft.

Josh Edwards, CBS Sports:

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia (No. 2)

Why: Walker may physically remind John Dorsey of Myles Garrett and although he has a lot of work to do in order to become as skilled of a pass rusher, it is difficult to overlook the traits.

Lewis Cine, S, Georgia (No. 32)

Why: After his performance at the NFL Combine, Cine has emerged as a possible first round pick. His play on tape matches his athletic traits. With Detroit missing out on the top safeties in free agency, the Bulldog could be an option for the second first-round choice after selecting Walker No. 2 overall.

Kyle Stackpole, CBS Sports:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: Hutchinson to the Lions seemed like the surest thing among the top 5 picks, but that's no longer the case with Jacksonville addressing its offensive line through free agency. Detroit loses out on Hutchinson but still gets its potential All-Pro pass rusher in Thibodeaux.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati

Why: Ridder put himself firmly in the first-round conversation by showcasing his eye-popping athleticism and faring well in the on-field workouts. He could be the successor to Jared Goff assuming the latter doesn't greatly improve in Year 2 in Detroit.

Nate Davis, USA Today:

Travon Walker, DL, Georgia

Why: A scheme-diverse, explosive (4.51 40 time and 35½-inch vertical leap), 6-5, 272-pounder, Walker can pretty much do it all – from applying pressure to shutting down run lanes, to dropping into coverage."

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss

Why: He's not big (6-2, 212), though might be a different story if you could measure his heart. He's also got sizable arm strength and athleticism and might be the kind of guy you want to invest in for a year – or at least part of a season – before unleashing him.

Vinnie Iyer, Sporting News:

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 2)

Why: The Lions are prime candidates to trade down now given they also hold No. 32 later in the first round and would benefit from stockpiling picks to build on overall team needs. Should they stay, Hamilton makes the most sense as an immediate impact player to clean up the back end of Aaron Glenn's defense.

Matt Corral, QB, Ole Miss (No. 32)

Why: Corral makes the most sense here with Ridder off the board.

Mike Renner, Pro Football Focus:

Ikem Ekwonu, T, N.C. State (No. 2)

Why: You want the best run-blocking offensive line in the NFL? Because you just got it. Ekwonu can slot in at guard immediately while developing to be Taylor Decker's eventual replacement at left tackle. The Power Five leader in big-time blocks would create a juggernaut offensive line in Detroit.

Treylon Burks, WR, Arkansas (No. 32)

Why: The Lions now remake their receiving room with one speedster in DJ Chark in and one power forward in Burks. Burks has been one of the best YAC receivers in the country, averaging 9.3 yards after the catch per reception last year.

Trevor Sikkema, Pro Football Focus:

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 2)

Why: Hamilton's combine performance wasn't "out of this world," but it certainly shouldn't hurt one of the most versatile players in the class, who has received unanimous praise from league sources.

Nakobe Dean, LB, Georgia (No. 32)

Why: The Lions re-signed Alex Anzalone and Shaun Dion Hamilton, but linebacker should still be something they'll consider, especially if a player like Dean is still on the board. As the centerpiece of that historic Georgia defense, Dean feels like the kind of player this Lions staff will love.

Jason McIntyre, Fox Sports:

Kayvon Thibodeaux, Edge, Oregon (No. 2)

Why: Lions GM Brad Holmes came from a team that just won the Super Bowl and prioritized defensive line dominance. Detroit coach Dan Campbell needs his team to get tougher. Enter Thibodeaux, who will instantly help Detroit's woeful 29th-rated pressure rate.

Sam Howell, QB, North Carolina (No. 32)

Why: The Lions have needs all over the place, and they get to lock Howell up for five years if they choose by grabbing him here. Howell had a fantastic 2020 campaign, but he wasn't as dominant in 2021.

Doug Farrar, Touchdown Wire

Kyle Hamilton, S, Notre Dame (No. 2)

Why: Hamilton can play credibly to incredibly everywhere from the box to the slot to free, he's the model of the modern NFL safety, and he's probably the best player in this draft class overall.

George Karlaftis, Edge, Purdue

Why: He had 54 total pressures and 29 stops last season for the Boilermakers, and while he doesn't necessarily jump off the tape as a speed-rusher, he does check all the boxes as a plus edge defender with gap versatility and the ability to stop the run.

Joe Broback, NFL Network:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: If Jacksonville doesn't buy the hype, Aidan Hutchinson shouldn't be on the board much longer anyway. The Lions need an impact player on the edge, and the Wolverines star brings their defense an incredible tenacity.

Desmond Ridder, QB, Cincinnati (No. 32)

Why: Drafting a quarterback at the end of Round 1 seems like a great decision for the Lions. Desmond Ridder brings great athleticism to the offense, which might be exactly what they need if other players around him can't step up.

Luke Easterling, Draft Wire:

Aidan Hutchinson, Edge, Michigan (No. 2)

Why: I'm betting the Lions would love this scenario, landing a stud defender in Hutchinson, bolstering the rest of the roster this year before looking for a franchise quarterback in next year's draft.

Christian Watson, WR, North Dakota State

Why: Watson proved at the Senior Bowl that he can hang with top competition, and his performance at the NFL Scouting Combine was as impressive as any other prospect in attendance.

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